WELLINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has resisted the temptation to give uncapped flyhalf Noah Lolesio a starting role against New Zealand in their Bledisloe Cup clash on Sunday, naming James O’Connor in the number 10 jersey instead.
It will be O’Connor’s first start at flyhalf in a test since 2013, although he impressed for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby AU in the position.
“James got better and better at 10,” Rennie told reporters on a conference call. “I have been really impressed with him.”
Rennie added that Lolesio’s hamstring injury that ruled him out for much of Super Rugby AU had played a small factor in his decision.
Lolesio, who is seen as a potential long-term Wallabies flyhalf, will instead make his test debut off the bench at Wellington Regional Stadium. Fellow debutants winger Filipo Daugunu, centre Hunter Paisami and loose forward Harry Wilson will all start the game.
Wilson, who was outstanding at number eight for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby AU, has surprisingly been named at blindside flanker, with Pete Samu picked to play off the back of the scrum.
“We are trying to grow this side, not just for this weekend but the future,” Rennie said.
“We have been picking these test sides every week for about the last six months ... and they’re all there on merit.”
Captain Michael Hooper will become the 12th Australian to notch up 100 test caps.
The Wallabies have been in isolation in Christchurch for the last two weeks due to New Zealand’s strict bio-security measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
They are due to travel to Wellington on Saturday for the match. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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